11 Comments

What is the optimum diet?

macronutrients

I read a lot about various “diets” and find some of the information very interesting while much of it just doesn’t make sense to me.  Some say you should cut out all carbohydrates, some say cut out all dairy, some say cut out all sugar, etc.  If I cut all this food out of my family’s diet, what are we going to eat?  There’s not much left.  The answer is really simple: we need to eat real foods as close to nature as possible.

So what is the optimum diet?  First, it is one that supplies all of your body’s needs for calories and nutrients, including macro- and micronutrients.  Macronutrients are the main elements of foods that our bodies need to function properly.  These include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.  Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need in much smaller quantities.  A healthy diet will support your general health, maximize longevity and provide energy.

What do we need in a healthy diet?  The role of diet is to provide the energy we need for our daily activities.  The number of calories needed depends on the level of activity, gender, and age of each person.  In general, adults need about 2,000 calories a day.  A healthy distribution of macronutrients should be 50-60% healthy carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 10-20% protein.  A healthy diet will be one that is varied to make sure you get enough of what you need and not too much of the things you don’t need.  It should include lots of fresh foods (not canned, frozen, or preserved) and be abundant in fruits and vegetables.

Carbohydrates:  Carbohydrates get a bad rap these days but are necessary for a healthy diet.  Carbs come in two varieties: simple and complex.  Their classification is based on how fast they turn into blood sugar.  Insulin in our bodies clears sugar from our blood.  Sometimes cells become resistant to insulin because on continual spikes of sugar followed by insulin release and can result in adult onset diabetes or high blood pressure, heart disease, or obesity.  A healthy diet consists primarily of low glycemic index foods with most meals to keep blood sugar even.  Low glycemic index foods include whole grains, bean, berries, apples, peaches, pears, vegetables, and cherries (recognize any of these foods from the Lowering Your Cholesterol with Food post?).  In addition, you also want to eat plenty of fiber with your meal to reduce the speed of digestive conversion to sugar.  Beans are an excellent way to get more fiber (and protein).

Fat: Fat also gets a bad rap because of its negative connotation.  But in reality, it is an essential part of a healthy diet.  There is a condition to it though: fats should be unsaturated fats such as those found in seeds and nut or olive oil and avocados.  Fish is another good source of healthy fats.  To reduce intake of saturated fat, cut back on meat and unskinned poultry and avoid vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated oils.  Manufactured (trans fats) fats should be completely eliminated.

Protein:  Protein is needed to build and maintain tissues in our bodies.  Growing children, nursing mothers, and those recovering from illness need more protein.  It is found primarily in lean meats and bean.  Foods such as edamame, mushrooms, and eggs are excellent sources of non-meat protein sources.

The secret to the optimum diet is really simple (and not a secret).  It’s simply to eat real, unprocessed foods.  You can’t find it in a box or magic pill – it’s as simple as eating the food that nature provides us with.

Do you consider your diet to be optimal?  Or could it use some work?  Try substituting one natural food for a processed food this week and see what happens!

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11 comments on “What is the optimum diet?

  1. We are starting to ” clean up” our foods

  2. I am with you 100%. I lost 40 pounds cutting eating low glycemic foods and cutting down on simple carbs. (Yes I exercised as well which is the other side of the equation). Never felt better than when I ate this type of diet.

  3. Great post! I function better on a higher protein, lower carb diet with lots of healthy fats like avocado and nuts. I don’t do well with any of the grains so I have had to eliminate them. My usual meals are raw kale salad with grilled chicken or salmon and sometimes a side of sweet potato or roasted squash for my cabs. Eating this way really works for me and I am never hungry and my cravings are non existent.

    • That’s great! I’m with you though….there are some circumstances that you can eliminate certain things (like grains) but I think you should only do that if there is a need, not based on the latest, greatest diet…that’s when it gets unhealthy. Your food sounds delicious!

      • Thank you 🙂 I agree with you 100%. I would LOVE to eat grains but they way I feel after is just not worth it. Doing it for a fad diet is just silly because if you know you can eat grains you will go back to eating them eventually anyway. I personally dislike “diets”. I just say find what agrees and works for you and stick to it for the most part and enjoy life 🙂

  4. Thank you for all the info!:) There really are so many diets out there it’s hard to find a balance

    • Yes, it is definitely hard to find a good balance with all the “facts” that get thrown out there. For my family, we eat real food as close to nature as possible. The only foods we eliminate are processed ones. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Such good info! I consider my diet to be pretty optimal. I eat whole foods cooked simply and hardly (if at all) processed ones. I eat 85-90% clean and 10-15% not so clean, allowing myself to splurge a little on dessert, the once in a blue moon peanut butter milkshake, fries, etc.

    By the way, thanks for visiting my blog. I like yours a lot!

  6. […] I read a lot about various “diets” and find some of the information very interesting while much of it just doesn’t make sense to me.  Some say you should cut out all carbohydrates…  […]

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